Letter Writing is Still Relevant: The Healing Power of Words
In today's information age, letter writing may be seen as old-fashioned. But a group of volunteers are dedicated to helping and caring for young people with their pens and papers.
Ada volunteers at Uncle Long Legs Letter Box, a letter counselling service offered by Evangelical Lutheran Church Social Service-Hong Kong and supported by The Community Chest of Hong Kong. Young people who are studying in Primary 3 to junior secondary school are encouraged to write letters to Uncle Long Legs to express their feelings and covey their thoughts. Through the service, society can express their care and acceptance of these young people, and help them to channel their emotions and grow up healthy.
When Ada was a Primary 3 student, Uncle Long Legs volunteers went to her school and introduced the service. She was curious about the service and decided to check it out by sending a letter to Uncle Long Legs Letter Box with the stationery provided by the volunteers.
“I didn't think much. At that time, no one in my home talked to me about my feelings. So when I learned about the service, I was curious whether there would be people replying my letter. And to my surprise, I got a reply.
“I didn't know how to express myself, and I used to keep all the feelings close to my chest. Letter writing was a new channel for me to express myself. Each time when I write down my feelings and experience, it feels like an introspection. After a period of time when I read the letters again, I realised how much I have grown up,” she said.
Uncle Long Legs not only helped Ada to find a shoulder to cry on but also proved to be a turning point in her personal growth. Currently, she is majoring in social work at the university and a volunteer with Uncle Long Legs. She would like to help other people with her knowledge and skills. “I am really thankful to those volunteers who listened to me in those days. They inspired me to help others when I grow up. They made me feel loved and I want to give back to society when I am able to do so,” she noted.
“While letter counselling lacks the interactivity of face-to-face counselling, it is easier for young people to express their feelings and emotions. The letters are mostly about their daily routines, but they want someone to listen to them and understand their feelings. Even the sharings are about minor things, they are happy because they feel supported and cared for,” she added.